explore the Historic Centreof Sheki
The Historic Centre of Sheki is a national architectural reserve and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Occupying the northern part of the city at the foot of the Caucasus Mountains, this wonderful area will take you back to the Silk Road with its cobblestone streets, distinctive houses, caravanserais and many artisans making authentic local crafts.
Overall the site reflects the wealth generated by Sheki’s silk industry in the 18th-19th centuries. Its centrepiece is the Sheki Fortress, the former headquarters of the Sheki Khanate (1743-1819). Surrounded by centuries-old crenellated walls, it’s home to a number of local attractions, not least the Sheki Khan’s Palace, a lavish mansion fronted by 500-year-old plane trees that dates from the 1760s and served as the summer residence of the Sheki Khans. Be sure to marvel at its multicoloured facade, exquisite interior wall paintings and stained-glass windows constructed without glue or nails – a local technique called shebeke.
Within the fortress, there’s also a number of small museums to explore, from the Museum of People’s Applied Arts to the Museum of History, Ethnography and Local Lore, plus unique local crafts at the House of Craftsmen, Ceramics and Applied Art Centre and Shebeke Workshop.
Outside the fortress, hidden among the atmospheric cobblestone streets, there are plenty more sites to visit, from the house museums of local literary luminaries Mirza Fatali Akhundzade and Bakhtiyar Vahabzade, to the lovely Sheki Khans’ House and 18th-century Upper Caravanserai, which currently functions as a hotel but also offers an authentic Silk Road-style tea experience.